Separation of speech and duty needed in sheriff's office
August 18, 2022
To the editor,
The following is a letter, dated June 28, 2022, sent to Columbia County Sheriff Joe Helm.
The letter pertained to his Under Sheriff wearing the County Law Enforcement uniform and badge while giving a political/religious speech on the streets of Dayton.
June 28, 2022
Sheriff Joe Helm
341 E. Main St.
Dayton, WA. 99328
As an introduction: I left Dayton in 2015 but still remain connected to the community that I lived in and served for 24 years. Additionally, I’m retired with over 28 years in law enforcement and seven years in direct support of law enforcement at the city, county, state, and federal levels, in a consultant role.
I have read and totally support your Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals established for your Department. With that said, I take exception to Deputy Patterson wearing what appeared to be a uniform shirt with his Name and a Columbia County embroidered Sheriff’s Badge as a speaker at a recent event near the Dayton Depot. After reviewing a video of the speech, I found no relationship between his political views/words, Biblical and Constitutional references, and your department’s Vision, Mission, Values, Goals, and law enforcement responsibilities to the Community. It begs the question: Was Deputy Patterson on duty?
What happened to the sayings “When you wear the Badge, you’re always on duty” and “What you do and say reflects on your Department and Community”!
As a past member of the law enforcement profession I continue to support and uphold the uniform and badge in high esteem. I strongly feel that Deputy Patterson was wrong when he wore the Badge while speaking or preaching on a matter of his personal, biblical or political beliefs and interests? Additionally, by wearing the embroidered badge, his words and personal view represented that of the Sheriff’s Department and Government of Columbia County.
To date, I have not received a response nor acknowledgment that the issue has been corrected.
Whidbey Island, Wash.